MACLAUGHLIN, DONALD CLAY JR.
Name: Donald Clay MacLaughlin, Jr.
Rank/Branch: O2/US Navy
Unit: Attack Squadron 76, USS ENTERPRISE (CVAN 65)
Date of Birth: 21 May 1941
Home City of Record: Baltimore MD
Date of Loss: 02 January 1966
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 144557N 1085157E (BS703334)
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Other Personnel in Incident: (none missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 May 1990 from one or more of
the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence
with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews. Updated by the P.O.W.
SYNOPSIS: When nuclear powered USS ENTERPRISE arrived on Yankee Station on
December 2, 1965, she was the largest warship ever built. She brought with
her not only an imposing physical presence, but also an impressive component
of warplanes and the newest technology. By the end of her first week of
combat operations, the ENTERPRISE had set a record of 165 combat sorties in
a single day, surpassing the KITTY HAWK's 131. By the end of her first
combat cruise, her air wing had flown over 13,000 combat sorties. The record
had not been achieved without cost.
One of the combat aircraft that launched from the decks of the ENTERPRISE
was the A4 Skyhawk. The Skyhawk was built by Douglas Aircraft to provide the
Navy and Marine Corps with an inexpensive, lightweight attack and ground
support aircraft. The design emphasized low-speed control and stability
during take-off and landing as well as strength enough for catapult launch
and carrier landings. The plane was so compact that it did not need folding
wings for aboardship storage and handling. In spite of its diminutive size,
the A4 packed a devastating punch and performed well where speed and
maneuverability were essential.
LTJG Donald C. MacLaughlin, Jr. wa a pilot assigned to Attack Squadron 76
onboard the USS ENTERPRISE> On January 2, 1966, MacLaughlin was flying as a
wingman in an A4C Skyhawk on a combat mission in South Vietnam.
Weather in the target area was 2300-2600 feet overcast. Approximately 3
miles south of the target, visibility reduced to zero in fog. The flight
leader made the first run and, after pulling off the target instructed the
wingman to pull up and hold in a clear area. No acknowledgement was
received. The leader made one more run then called again to MacLaughlin, but
received no answer.
The flight leader transmitted in blind to the rendezvous point after three
orbits. The leader then alerted search and rescue (SAR) to look for his
wingman. The search proved fruitless and the leader returned to ship.
Later search efforts located wreckage that was widely dispersed indicating a
shallow impact angle. Although small arms fire was reported in the target
area, the cause of the accident was unknown. Search and rescue helicopters
landed near the scene later that day, but crewmen were unable to locate the
ejection seat or MacLaughlin. Search and rescue continued their search and
the following day, located MacLaughlin's body. Enemy ground fire prevented
them from recovering the body, however. MacLaughlin's name is listed among
American personnel prisoner, missing and unaccounted for in Southeast Asia
because his body was never recovered.
Death is all but certain for Donald C. MacLaughlin, Jr. Although he
apparently ejected from his aircraft, he died in the effort or at some point
after. For hundreds of others, however, simple answers are not possible.
Adding to the torment of nearly 10,000 reports relating to Americans missing
in Southeast Asia is the certain knowledge that some Americans who were
known to be prisoners of war were not released at the end of the war. Others
were suspected to be prisoners, and still others were in radio contact with
would-be rescuers when last seen alive. Many were known to have survived
their loss incidents, only to disappear without a trace.
The problem of Americans still missing torments not only the families of
those who are missing, but the men who fought by their sides, and those in
the general public who realize the full implication of leaving men
unaccounted for at the end of a war.
Tragically, many authorities believe there are hundreds of Americans still
alive in captivity in Southeast Asia today. What must they be thinking of
us? What will our next generation say if called to fight if we are unable to
bring these men home from Southeast Asia?